Orienteering from Lodz to Greater Poland Voivodeship

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The land around Lodz Voivodeship is rich with forests where one can get lost for long hours of trail, dirt and service road exploration.
Being local and having spent a lot of time riding around some of the surrounding forestry land I know it like the back of my hand. Yet there’s still a lot to be discovered further away from home than a days ride can take me.

My Grandmother lives 100 km away in a straight line on the outskirts of the Greater Poland Voivodeship. Visiting her by bike is almost a prehistoric idea that once popped into the head of my cousin and never saw it’s execution. It was high time to change that.

Riding with a GPS unit makes navigation in unknown terrain much simpler. It also let’s one adjust the navigation style to own preferences. It’s possible to plan a track in detail using available topographic maps, satellite imaging and even someone’s previously recorded GPS tracks from services like gpsies.com. These can be then followed as a continuous line on the GPS screen. This is a great way to explore new off-road terrain when time is a concern as it minimises navigation errors – provided the input data is up to date. Another way of approaching things is plotting a general route by means of waypoints which are then connected with straight lines. The navigation to each point is done on-the-way style – often meaning that more time is needed but it’s also a lot more adventurous.
The later has lately become my preferred method of orienteering, although a separate detailed paper map comes in very handy especially in mountainous terrain. The Garmin Etrex20/30 units have to small screens and are to slow for scroll-navigation, the 62-series does a lot better here.
As I had a lot of time to spare I’ve decided to draw straight lines through all the forests I could find on the way to my Grandmother. I didn’t know most of the terrain ahead and with days getting very short I packed all my camping gear before hitting the trails.

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Some of the forest roads were running in straight lines for kilometres as if they were designated bikepacking highways. Keeping an eye on the GPS I chose the ones heading in my desired direction.

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And some passed alongside fish farming ponds guarded by some furry giants. These would escort me all the way to the edge of the fence – I was glad there was something tangible between us.

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Other times I would navigate past history slowly overgrowing with moss and mineral deposits.

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This bunker has served for only two days 4-5. September 1939. giving shelter to the soldiers of the Polesian Infantry Division of Army Lodz defending the lines along the river Widawa against oncoming German forces. The whole frontline was spread along 70 kilometres.

It was somewhere around these terrains where Oskar Jr. Hohenzollern, the son of the Prince Oskar of Prussia died in the first days of WWII. He was able to send only one letter home from the front:
”Before us the endless, shapeless expanse of the steppe is spread out; it seems to glow threateningly in the east. There’s smoke in the sky. All there is to do is advance to the distant lines, behind which our fate pushes heavy and dull. We will not escape it.
We carry the blood of two millennia of shining, towering history with us, and only a quiet radiance remained from the wreaths and ribbons, which bound it.”

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A lot of Polish soldiers shared his fate during the Invasion of Poland, September 1939. Traveling east of Poland you won’t find this date on many monuments.

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For Poles it was the begging of WWII. Russians see the year 1941 as the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.

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Heading further west I encounter lot’s of marked cycling trails. Unfortunately the are no signs indicating trail names, this makes later internet research futile.

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For most of the time my paths cross forests, sometimes leading into villages on gravel roads – great opportunity to stock up on some treats.

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Time for lunch composed of fresh veggies and home baked bread, hot coffee is mandatory.

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It’s very late October but some of the flowers are still in bloom.

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Between Sieradz and Zdunska Wola I hop on some tarmac and then into the next forest. The sun is low and I’m after a nice camping spot.

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After a quiet and rather warm night I awaken under some clear skies. Here’s my chance to enjoy sunrays hitting the tree crowns under slack angles, a view to remember.

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Having packed all my gear I help myself to some breakfast and hot coffee to get me going. It’s a nice fresh morning and the air rushing around my hands cools them down pretty fast. A pair of mitts does the job and with a clever design I can use one finger for braking and shifting.

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The morning is extremely beautiful. On days like this I’m glad to be out and riding so early.

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Meadows lacking the tree cover show signs of a frosty night.

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This trip is the first occasion to test Surlys new 29+ platform on a long distance trip. My first impressions are quite positive, although I’m still reserved when it comes to its place in more traditional touring. On the way are standard 29er wheels with a QR15 thru axle dynamo hub and a decent 120mm of front suspension – outcome of experiences, thoughts and discussions shared with Nikola.

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I’m slowly approaching the Jeziorsko reservoir and thus it’s the last of forest trail I’ll see on this trip. I could use a change of setting after riding under a canopy for kilometres without end.

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Leaving the forest my head immediately gets under a blanket of clear blue skies and I encounter more bunkers of Army Lodz – this time on the Warta defence line.

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Some nice trails point me in the direction the reservoirs banks.

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Water level is very low – a great opportunity to ride on the bottom of the lake.

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Once it got to soft to ride another local cycling trail came with help. Blue and yellow trails – this colour combination brings back memories of good times in Ukraine.

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Having crossed the Warta river I find farming land tracks and tarmac roads rather uninspiring. Late summer would make for a much better setting in this area as it is the time when crops are high and harvesting begins.

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Arriving at my Grandmothers it’s time to come in terms with all the consequences of this visit.
Fresh doughnuts…

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…and sour rye soup – a Polish (and my grandmothers) speciality.

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All in all this kind of riding with a bit of orienteering thrown in seems to suit me best. If only time is not a concern.

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4 thoughts on “Orienteering from Lodz to Greater Poland Voivodeship

  1. Follow the blue and yellow path to Ukraine!

    The Krampus looks great. How is the new luggage arrangement working out? More room for snacks?

    I know you've been talking to Lucas, how about a Rockies Rendezvous next summer?

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  2. With the proper companionship I'd go there any time!

    The Kramps rides great too – what difference the slack angles make! Stable, yet nimble and it does seem like it's a fast bike – I really don't know why. The carradice bag works really nice and is a lot less hassle -inducing than my getto-rack-back-pack system. it's a keeper! Would have never believed how well it works on trails if I haven't had seen it with my own eyes. I could easily slip a second platypus full of Crimean juice under the longflap.
    My only gripe is the wide'ish support strut – gets a bit in the way when trying to get behind the saddle. Maybe if I'd use a shorter piece of wood or even aluminum then the material would give in a bit?

    Rockies sound great! No promises yet… lot of things in the way.

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  3. It looks like you had a nice journey through beautiful country. I noticed that you that you had a support for your saddle bag. What are you using? I'm looking for a way to support my Carradice on my Krampus. Thank you in advance and I hope to see more of your travels.

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  4. Hi Mseintempe,

    the support is a modified Nitto M18 front rack. As the Krampus lacks any rear rack braze-ons it's mounted via steel bands that come with the rack. The rear triangle on the Krampus has quite thick tubing and so far it's been working great with no movement of the steel bands. But to be honest I haven't really pushed it weight wise yet.
    Generally any front rack that can be mounted to the fork crown should fit the Krampus with proper treatment – I used a grinder to get rid of excess material and drilled one additional hole to move the rack further back. When using more traditional racks you'll be stuck with additional steel bands.
    There are also the Bagman supports used i.e. by Cass of While Out Riding but I've heard mixed opinions.

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